Here is part two of the current serial. At some point the serial may have a title overall but for now we are playing around with odd names for each section. Seems to be about the way things happen around here.
Things are about to get … messy.
If you are just joining the action now, you can catch up with the pervious installment and future installments at these links:
Something Amiss in the Space Station Lounge
Blatantly obvious, it wasn’t there, cart 12 hadn’t been parked in its stall. Hank’s mind blanked, he couldn’t remember who had signed out that cart. He remembered seeing it travel through earlier in the day but he just couldn’t picture who had been driving. He checked the usage logs, who ever checked it out would be working in a specific area within the park that day. Most likely he would find the cart left there. He was pretty sure he knew who would have done it too, same person who forgets to take care of their cart on a regular basis.
He could have taken a cart to head over to the Frontier section of the park, but he wouldn’t have been able to bring back the errant cart if he did that. Nice night, he walked. Something about adding another task to the day can really focus a person’s mind. Hank had completely forgotten his earlier musings as he walked the path to the Frontier. The midway and manager’s office were set at the front entrance to the park. This meant he had to travel through the main pathway to the far end and then the employee lot. The different lands that comprised the satellite sections of the park branched off the main path. They could be reached through a circular path that connected each on the outer rim as well as their connections to the main path.
The Frontier was at the far end, he could reach it on his way to the employee lot. The Frontier, strange name for the place he thought. It wasn’t a tribute to the American west. This section of the park carried a space theme, the final frontier. They had gotten special licensing to brand the look and feel of the section. They used aliens and spacemen from the series to give it an authentic feel. The Captain cutouts throughout the attractions used to make Hank laugh. Now they just felt sad and lonely to him.
He passed through the tunnel toward the main section. When the park is open lights in the tunnel pass in such a way that the person walking through feels like they are stepping into hyperspace, usually gives Hank vertigo, but so much better when the park is closed and the lights are off.
He hoped that Terrence hadn’t left the cart too far into the attraction. At this point he had already spent too much of his day on his feet. He just wanted to get home with a beer and his feet up on the couch. Turn on some TV as background noise and veg. Didn’t matter what he turned on, not now. Just something to rot his brain a little and give him some peace from the stress of the day. Something to take Jen off his mind for a little bit till he could forget her and her attitude completely.
He found the cart half way through the section, in front of the Space Station lounge, a themed restaurant. The place was just as cheesy as you could imagine. The power switch was in the off position, a chance that it would have the juice to get it back to the power station. Wouldn’t be much longer and he could call the day done, bout all Hank cared about at this point.
Except for the sticky, tacky substance that covered the steering wheel. He wrapped his hands around the wheel, ready to drive back, but a shudder and squirm tore through his body, reflexive and quick as he pulled his hands away from the wheel. The sticky didn’t leave him even then. A dark substance covered the palms of his hands and the underside of his fingers. Dark and gooey, he couldn’t tell it by color. Just the feel of it on his flesh and then the smell, metallic, a bit like copper.
He was tempted to taste it but figured that would be going a step to far to figure it out. Instead he climbed out of the cart and scanned the area for the nearest bathroom. As much time as he spent in the park, he should have known where one was just on memory alone. But the sticky goo and darkness disoriented him, at least for a moment. He couldn’t remember in the dark where the nearest bathroom might be.
He could have stepped into the restaurant and used the bathroom inside, but he left his keys back at the manager’s office. He didn’t have to work the next day so the keys were left for the next manager. He remembered the bathroom across the main causeway near a motion video ride. Even with the lights off in the park he could still use the sink to wash out his hands and get some wet towels to clean off the steering wheel in the golf cart.
The smell assaulted his nose as he stepped into the bathroom. More of the copper but also something a bit more vile. He couldn’t quite put his hand on the smell. Flies, more than he had ever seen in one place filled the interior of the bathroom. The buzz of their wings as they whipped through the place drowned the quiet of the night around him. The air had grown thick with the nasty things. Hank placed his arm over his mouth and nose in an attempt to keep the bugs out of his face. The effort proved futile, at least in the long run. As he ran water across his hands his nose was open to their assault.
The aggressive bugs fought and pulled at his nostrils as they climbed across his face. Though it felt as if they might fill his lungs with their bodies they didn’t drive deeper than the surface of his face. Even as he swatted at them they buzzed away but came right back.
The clouds shifted and light from the full moon cut through the small window at the end of the bathroom. It bounced from the floor to the mirror and suffused the room with the warmth of its light. In this new light he saw the body on the floor in front of the upright toilets, no breath from its lungs as it lay heaped on the floor.
The flies circled and covered the body, so much that Hank couldn’t make out the face.